“Acing the Test: A Sestina” by José A. Alcántara

José A. Alcántara


No one has ever done it before, no man
has ever got all the questions right; no woman
either. It’s hard to believe, but I saw it on TV.
Amazing! That’s what the doctors say. A genius!
I’m not making this up. They caught it on camera.
In all of recorded history, he’s the first person

to correctly identify an elephant. The first person!
Goddamn! He’s smarter than that guy who led the Man
hattan Project. And how good he looks on camera!
Has there ever been a sexier man? If I was a woman,
he could grab my genitals. Oh, to be groped by a genius.
And to think, he spent so many years on TV

being laughed at, made fun of. Did you know that TV
is an acronym for “Terribly Virile”? Person
ally, I can’t imagine a more stable genius.
And I can’t understand why the fake news man
gles everything he says. So what if he a paid a woman
hush money? So what if the Russians hid a camera

in his hotel room? When you gotta go, you gotta go, camera
be damned. And don’t believe everything you see on TV.
Except those test results. Thirty-five right! WOMAN.
MAN.       CAMERA.       TV.       PERSON.
Wow! I probably have the wrong order, but, man,
that guy is fucking brilliant. I mean, I’m no genius

but that doesn’t mean I don’t know a genius
when I see one. I wish they had the part on camera
where he counted backward by sevens. Man,
that must be incredible. And in HD TV!
100 – 93 – 86 – 79 What kind of person
can even do that?! I once heard of a woman

who could count backward by threes, but that woman
ain’t nothing compared to this guy. He’s a genius’s genius.
I’m so glad we have the greatest, smartest, best-ever person
leading our country. It’s a damned lucky camera
that gets to record such powerful and intelligent TV
footage of this once-in-a-millenium Superman.

He must be the first genius ever caught on camera
showing a simple person like me, with only a TV,
how to dazzle a woman, how to be a real man.

from Poets Respond
August 2, 2020


José A. Alcántara: “It’s almost too painful to contemplate the idiocy that currently occupies the Oval Office, but when I heard Agent Orange bragging of his ‘person, woman, man, camera, TV,’ I decided to add a word and write my first ever sestina.”


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